Archive for October, 2011

Aluminum Foil: the Jack O’ Lantern’s Best Friend

My family has never been one to go all out for Halloween. We’re the type that puts up smiling ghosts, mildly scary monsters, and the odd witch here and there on the door. All of our jack o’ lanterns come generally in the classic triangle eyes, triangle nose, missing teeth grin/grimace.

The one thing that makes our jack o’ lanterns better than yours is how bright we get ours to shine at night.

For as long as I can remember, my parents have used foil to line the inside of our pumpkins to enhance the glow of the candle. (And yes, we still use candles. If your children don’t have fire-resistant costumes, then that’s something you should have thought to consider before coming to our house.) At least two groups of parents will always ask, “Do you use mirrors to get the inside really bright?”

No, we just use foil. It makes things really shiny and also makes cleaning up a breeze.

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Try it out this year. I guarantee you’ll make even the suckiest pumpkin look good.

It Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This

I’m working again (albeit it’s just a temporary position). It’s your typical Entertainment Industry assistant gig, but in my recent experience, the only industry that is still hiring assistants on a regular basis is the one that Los Angeles makes a good chunk of its income from. There’s nothing challenging about it, but I do need the industry experience if I’m going to try and make a living in this town.

This past Tuesday was tough on me physically: global warming decided to turn it up a few degrees and it was my turn to run errands. My list included the following:

1. Go to my boss’ new home in Beverly Hills to pick up a couple of items.
2. Drop off Time Warner Cable property at the location on Cahuenga.
3. Visit Marshall’s to purchase a comforter for my boss (preferably in brownish hues).

The house gig was the trickiest one. I had a key, but didn’t realize that the house alarm had been set and would go off as soon as I opened the door. I’ve heard house alarms go off before, but they’ve always been deactivated by the owner well before a stern recording tells me to vacate the premise and that the cops are on the way.

I literally told the recording that I’d love to go, but I had things to get from the house and couldn’t leave until the items had been picked up and were in my car. It was a brand new low for me as an assistant, especially since I’m only a temp – I had doubts that the company would come and pick me up from the station once the police realized that I’d set off the alarm in error. Luckily, I managed to turn off the alarm without any cop cars rolling up the driveway, and I was able to finish my task.

The day was a warm one, and I was still a little bit rattled after the house alarm fiasco. I managed to make it to Time Warner and Ross without any further mishaps, but the heat, the slim chance of me having to deal with the fuzz, and dealing with LA traffic left me cranky. My mood didn’t improve when my phone suddenly indicated that I had three new text messages.

Daytime text messages are on par with nighttime phone calls: someone has either died or wants you in his/her bed. Since I’m single, I had a gut wrenching feeling that something was very, very wrong.

Luckily, no one had died. It was my old roommate, Jamison, on his way back from Rome via Chicago.

Our conversation went a little something like this:

J: Kkkaaatthhhhrrryynnn
J: Dunkin donuts?
J: They have one herein Chicago and I’m going to grab some before I leave
K: Yes please! :D
J: What’s your preference?
K: Pumpkin if they have it; otherwise chocolate
J: Okie dokie
K: Thank you!

That quick exchange (and the promise of a donut) had me turn my frown upside down.

“He’s HIV Positive!”

Apparently today is National Coming Out Day, if I’m to believe my Facebook and my Twitter feeds. This is great for two reasons:
1. Going to a Professionals Mixer at the Abbey tonight and am bringing my gay ex-husband/roomie with me. Flame Dame clich├ęs galore!
2. Don’t really need another reason, but I wanted to make a list.

Admitting your sexuality to others can either be an easy chat or a heart-wrenching ordeal. Luckily my friends who have come out have been able to have a relatively easy time of it (at least with the people they’ve been able to tell – sibblings and friends, but the parents may be left out for the first few years). I realize it helps to be in liberal-ish California to break the news and that millions of others are still struggling with being accepted as human beings, much less homosexuals.

To honor this special occasion, I’d like to share the story of how my mom’s youngest brother decided to come out. At the time it wasn’t that funny (for reasons you’ll soon read about), but fifteen years have passed and I’d like to think that my mom kind of laughs about it today.

I came across my first gay man at the age of fourteen. My father had just reconnected with his long-lost half-sibblings, and we discovered that his brother was gay. Having never been around a gay man before, I was intrigued by the hand gestures, the slight gay lisp mixed with a Long Island accent, and the gentle swish of the hips as he walked. I abolutely adored my newly found uncle – the things that came out of his mouth and his personality made me feel like I’d come home to something. It was comfortable, like a friend you’ve always wanted but never imagined in your wildest dreams that you’d come across someone so divine. It also felt like I could explain where some of my sarcastic traits came from, as my mom’s side was much tamer in their sense of humor.

A year passed, and my newly-discovered uncle was a permanent fixture in our lives. Everyone was comfortable around him, and I was pleased to see that my family wasn’t doing the usual quiet back-handed whispers that come with anything that doesn’t follow the norm. My mother’s youngest brother must have been relieved by this, because soon after we received a card in the mail, with this image on the front:


I had just gotten home from school to find my mother sitting in the den, crying. The amount of tears meant that it was more than just a touching moment on Oprah, so I assumed that someone had died.

“What happened?” I asked.

“Uncle M-mike c-came out,” she sobbed.

“So? Uncle Gordon’s gay.”

“He’s HIV positive!” She broke down in fresh tears.

“How do you know?”

“He s-sent this card…”

She held out the card and I glanced through it. Inside he mentioned how much he loved our family (especially our love of food), then casually mentioned that he was gay. He said that he sent everyone else cards in the mail and that we weren’t to worry about his health: he tested HIV – and would always use protection.

I turned to my mother. “I don’t see the part where he’s got HIV.”

She pointed to the line where he wrote “I tested HIV -” and got upset again.

“Mom, I bet he means that he’s HIV negative.” It dawned on me that he probably intended the dash to mean “negative,” but my mom took it to be a pause.

It took a few hours before she managed to get a hold of her brother by phone, and he apologized: he did indeed mean for that phrase to read as “HIV negative.” My mom was feeling much better after that conversation, knowing that her little brother wasn’t going to die of a terrible disease.

For me, I was pleased to have another gay man in my life. Little did I realize that this would cement my fate as a Flame Dame (and I wouldn’t become aware of the title until I started working in retail).

I am proud of my uncle for coming out, and I’m proud to have so many gay and lesbian friends in my life. You guys are the ones that keep my life exciting, and I Thank You from the bottom of my heart.